A Serendipitous Precursor
I have been feeling a physical sensation of being pulled. I imagine it has something to do with my time traveling between 12 time zones but romantically I feel that a part of me has remained in Shanghai and wants me to return. I am still processing the many incredible moments that occurred during my trip but so many of them would not have have occurred without a serendipitous meeting at the conference where I was a panelist in LA. The event was both a panel and a series of fun and interactive events that allowed participants to "play" with fashion. There were paper dolls that could be dressed with copies of outfits worn by influencers, a "catwalk", a graffiti wall to pose in front of, large cardboard reproductions of iconic looks from fashion history and a "room" where one could browse through fashion magazines
I was quite excited about participating in this conference, Fashion+Social+Media, hosted by USC Annenberg. Comprised of a panel that included academics who research and write about fashion, digital influencers and a panel of said influencers, I was part of the panel that included bloggers and other social media personalities. It was an interesting position to be in because although I am a digital influencer as you know I am also an academic and could not help myself from observing and processing the proceeding from my both/and perspective. The academic panel presented first and it was a very odd sensation for me to be in what we refer to in research as the subject position, that is the object of research. I have to say the power dynamics of such a relationship became quite clear when I heard myself being represented in ways that did not quite fit with my own lived experience. Interestingly, the other influencers also challenged some of what was being said. The host of the event, Dr. Alison Trope was a skilled interviewer of both panels and effortlessly exposed the gap between theory and practice. That place where knowledge is created through experience and application. What the academics did not identify but became clear as the influencers spoke was the pleasure they received from the process of their creative work and the relationships they forged with their readers and followers.
So in an interesting precursor to my Shanghai trip, a number of Chinese students, who already followed me (I have a very large Instagram following from China), came to meet me at the conference. One of them a young man from Shanghai, after some chatting, decided to return home during my trip and offered his services in whatever way he could assist. In some sense this was a way for him to also get experience performing a role he could potentially have in a future career and he had already begun to explore the role of influencer himself. This moment of serendipity and collaboration transformed my trip into something that would have been a sometimes challenging new experience into a trip that was simply in every single aspect, perfect. I will feel forever that my Dries van Noten brocade dress brought me good fortune and the friendship of a very talented young man. Thank you cannot convey all I owe him.
Do you have a garment that has brought you good fortune and found you a friend?